March 31, 2011

Tightwad Gazette I Refresher - Day 28 - March 31st

Of all the things that I wish I would have done when my kids were younger, it’s that I didn’t go to garage sales to buy their clothes and that I didn’t buy their clothes years in advance and store the clothing like Amy did.

Amy Dacyczyn is a wonder. The advice in her books is priceless and you easily recoup the price you paid for these books. While our economy has brought us challenges, Amy gives us the tools to work through these tough times and beyond. Yes, beyond. We shouldn’t just read these books and put Amy’s advice into practice for these times only, but we need to make life long changes.

Three years ago I can guarantee you that there were people who were wishing that they had more money in the bank and less debt in order to deal with a job loss. Perhaps we should constantly remind ourselves that happiness and security is defined as no debt and money in the bank.

These ideas are from Amy Dacyczyn's book the Tightwad Gazette I.  I have underlined my comments. Now on to our reading for today.


Except for sneakers, socks and some underwear, Amy has never purchased new clothing for any of her children. Remember that Amy has 6 children at the time of the writing of this book, so she has about 30 same sized boxes in her attic that have clothes stored in them.

The boxes are marked with the age of the child and the sex. So using her system 5YG – means 5 year old girl; 12YB – 12 year old boy; Trainage – obviously these are the potty training pants and underwear.

Amy collects clothes from relatives that are years older than her oldest child and she stores them away. She is given a lot of hand me downs, so she sorts them by age and sex for future use. When she buys yard sale clothes she will buy only a couple years older than the oldest child. She doesn’t buy too far in advanced because free hand me downs might come along in the meantime.

Also, she doesn’t wait to shop for clothes 6 months before she needs them as she might not be able to find what she needs.

Amy stores the clothes in same size boxes so she can gauge the amount of clothes she has. Amy’s goal is not to have too many clothes for one size, but a “just good enough amount.” Amy never turns down hand me downs from anyone. She sorts through them and keeps everything, just in case she will need them all. Amy doesn’t go through to repair or remove stains at this time as she may be given some clothes in the same size in better shape sometime in the future.

Amy will buy things very far in advance if she is at a yard sale and they have brand new shoes or a new coat on sale. She also tries to choose items that will be in style for a few years.

Amy has 30 boxes stored in her attic and each of them is marked with her code for sex and year. The boys boxes are on one side of the chimney and the girls boxes are on the other side of the chimney. She can easily go up to her attic and retrieve an article of clothing at any time.

I wish with all my heart I had gone to garage sales and yard sales for my kids’ clothing especially when they were young. I know I would have saved a lot of money.


This recipe came from a woman that ran a used clothing store for children.

Add 1 cup each of powdered Cascade and Clorox II to five gallons of the hottest water to come out of your faucet. Soak articles overnight and launder as usual.

This will remove about 90% of the stains. Do not use this for delicate fabrics or fabrics that were not color fast. This is good for removing food stains.

I was given some maternity clothes years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest son. These were some really pretty t-shirts but a few of them had stains right on the front. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I used this solution and it worked. Those shirts came out free of stains and I was able to wear them throughout my pregnancy.


This article is about writing manufacturers about defective items you have purchased. Now instead of trying to find an address to write to, you can simply find the manufacturer’s website and send an e-mail to customer service.


One reader wrote in to say that after wallpapering the rooms in her house she had a lot of wallpaper left over. She uses it to wrap gifts. One time my mom used wallpaper to make the outside covers of little program booklets for a mother daughter banquet at our church. It was clever and she finally was able to use up some of that wallpaper she had on hand. She was a professional wall paper hanger so we always had half or quarter rolls of leftover wallpaper in our house.

This same reader bought beautiful decorative vases at yard sales. She would clean them up and go to a florist and ask them to fill it with $5 of flowers. This is a good idea and if you go to Wal-mart you will find that you can get a nice bouquet for $10.


In the summer that is, to do your Christmas shopping at yard sales. Look for toys that are in great condition for kids and collectibles, puzzles or books for adults.

I remember going to a few garage sales when my oldest son was about 1 years old. I found a Little Tikes football toy chest for a couple of dollars along with some great Fisher Price toys. These items were in almost new condition. We lived in a large City at the time so we had a lot of garage sales we could go to with some great deals.


Amy received a brochure from their electric company which showed a breakdown of the average costs of using most household appliances. When she looked over the brochure she saw that some of her appliances were not the same wattage as the examples. So she did some math.

If you use 1,000 watts for 1 hour you’ve used 1 kilowatt hour (or KWH). If you pay 10 cents per KWH you can run a 1,000 watt appliance for 60 minutes for 10 cents. A 100 watt light bulb costs 1 cent per hour to run.

Appliances have the wattage marked on the bottom. They don’t all have nice easy numbers, so you need the equation:

Watts x Hours

  1,000               = KWH

Example: a 1,400 watt hair dryer used for 2 hours a month:

1,400 x 2

  1,000               = 2.8 KWH

It is hard to calculate energy usage on appliances that go on and off such as an oven, water heater or freezer. Also, when you use an oven, you use different temperatures depending on what you are baking, so again, energy usage is harder to determine.

You can save money when you cook small amounts of food in smaller appliances such as a toaster oven, slow cooker or microwave. The microwave tends to be the most energy efficient. The only problem is that you can’t cook everything properly in a microwave oven.

Amy did recommend that if you need to warm something on your stove and the oven is on, put that item on the surface unit that has the oven vent. The escaping heat will help warm the food. I have a gas oven and I do this all the time especially if I want to warm rolls. I place them in a bowl and put them towards the back of the stove where the oven vents. Works great and is better than the microwave.

To save energy on your dryer turn it to air during the last 15 minutes as it will still use the hot air that has built up in the dryer. In cold weather vent your electric dryer into your basement to make good use of the heat. If you brew a pot of coffee in the morning, pour it into a thermos to keep warm instead of keeping the warming unit on.

Set the water heater temperature to a lower degree of 125 degrees. Install a low flow shower head in your shower. Set a timer for the shower to save on water. That sounds great to me. The person who is in the shower the longest in our household is our 18 year old son.

Finally check with your electric company to see when the off peak hours are for the cheapest usage of electricity. I have got to do this. I have heard that if you wait until after 9:00 do your laundry, you can save money on energy. But if I waited until then I would only be able to do 1 load of laundry at a time so I would have to do a load every day of the week. If this was a significant savings, I would do this during the winter as in the summer I hang the clothes up outside.

Tomorrow we will read page 278 through 284. We are coming close to the end of this first book. It has been fun re-reading this book. I hope you have gained some new tips and have also enjoyed reading this as much as I have.

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